Cryo Chamber's FREE "Dark Ambient of 2017" Mix

One last goodie before 2017 calls it quits, thanks to Oregon dark ambient label, Cryo Chamber!

They just released a great, one-hour long mix from some of their 2017 releases. And it's free!

From the Cryo Chamber Bandcamp page:

This is our Christmas gift for 2017 to all who support us and is free for everyone!

Continuing our yearly tradition, we picked some interesting releases this year. Some that fall well within our dark ambient borders, and some that scratch at the surface extending it's inky tendrils all over neighboring genres.

With tracks from Flowers From Bodysnatchers, Apocryphos/Kammarheit/Atrium Carceri, Metatron Omega, Atrium Carceri/Cities Last Broadcast, and Wordclock, you'll have a great little mix perfect for an October haunt soundtrack! I think the dark ambient genre lends itself nicely to a haunt theme and have been using it as background sound in my haunt display for years. And I HIGHLY recommend this mix, as it's full of great tracks.

Go get this mix for free over at the Cryo Chamber Bandcamp page!

King Diamond - "No Presents For Christmas"

When I think "Christmas music," I instantly think "King Diamond"...

One more yuletide tune for the holidays. Enjoy!!

The Damned - "There Ain't No Sanity Clause"

A ripping punk "Christmas" classic from The Damned. From the There Ain't No Sanity Clause ep, originally released in 1980 on Chiswick Records.

Merry Christmas!

Wishing all of my fellow haunters, haunted house freaks, Halloween enthusiasts and fans of the macabre a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Highbury Cemetery!

But be warned. Santy Claus only brings presents to them thats been good all year. What about you, boy? You been good all year?

Lucas King - "Carol Of The Bells"

A darker twist to the holiday classic from composer Lucas King. Enjoy!

A Late Halloween Gift Becomes An Early Christmas Present

It all began with a ghost-story contest, a parlour-game, a serious young woman of eighteen years old who had run away with her boyfriend, and some very stimulating company—and a thunderstorm which kept them indoors...

Around the time of Thanksgiving, my wife and son presented me with a box. They said that it was originally supposed to be a surprise Halloween gift, but that it had only just arrived today.

Puzzled, I opened it. Inside was a face that I instantly recognized!

Frankenstein: The First Two Hundred Years by Christopher Frayling was hot off the Reel Art Press presses and delivered straight to my door. I was totally surprised, as I didn't even know about this new book! Over 200 stunningly beautiful pages detailing everything Frankenstein, from the original New Year's Day release of Mary Shelley's iconic 1818 novel (and its many interpretations), to Karloff's iconic Universal film monster portrayal, through the fascinating, wider metaphorical use of the storyline, and up to the firm hold of all things Frankenstein in modern day pop culture.

I haven't had a chance to fully dive into this monster yet (see what I did there??), but I can't wait to take it all in. I didn't realize that Shelley's Frankenstein story will turn 200 this January 1st. What a great time to celebrate my favorite horror character!

A huge thank you to my family for this gorgeous late Halloween/early Christmas gift! This is going to the top of my reading list immediately after the holidays.

Frankenstein: The First Two Hundred Years is available now at Reel Art Press and

Lull - "Whiteout"

Happy Winter Solstice. A perfect track to lead us into the bleak, dark cold of winter. From Lull's classic 2008 dark ambient release, Like A Slow River. Cold and eerie, yet oddly relaxing...

"Krampus" Soundtrack by Douglas Pipes

Okay, just one more Krampus-themed post for 2017. But first, a little story...

Back in the winter of 2015, I quickly decided that I wanted to see Michael Dougherty's new holiday horror film, Krampus. After his now cult classic, Trick 'r Treat, became a mainstay in my Halloween traditions, I figured I'd give this one a shot to see if it would be added to my Christmas traditions as well.

The day before Christmas Eve, I had a late afternoon physical therapy session. I was rehabbing from surgery on a badly broken finger, thanks to an awesome mountain bike crash earlier in the summer. The therapy session was an hour long and I was completely against heading back to work at 4:00 on the day before Christmas break, so I decided that I was going to the movie theater to see Krampus instead. Alone.

Truth be told, I had never gone to a theater to see a movie on my own (which is kind of weird, because I have done just about everything else on my own!). I walked up to the ticket  counter and waited in line to get my ticket. I got to the counter and said, "One ticket for Krampus, please." The young girl working the counter looked up at me with a startled look on her face. Smiling, she said, "Wow! Someone NOT here to see Star Wars!"

D'oh! As I looked over to the entrance into the theater, I could see the line. EVERYONE was in line, waiting to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. My palms got sweaty...

I grabbed my ticket, quickly walked past the line and found the theater number that was playing MY film. I walked in and looked around.

Not a single person in the theater. "Cool, I'm early so I get first pick at a seat." I of course picked a seat right in the middle of the theater for maximum sight and sound.

The previews started playing and I kicked back and relaxed a bit. Still nobody else in the theater.

After the endless parade of previews to films that I had absolutely no interest in seeing, the movie started. I could still hear the line of people outside the door, waiting for Star Wars. But still nobody else came into my theater.

Ten minutes into the movie, I made the joyous realization that nobody else WAS coming in. I had the whole damn theater to myself!! I kicked my feet up onto the seat in front of me, and with a relaxed grin, I sat back and enjoyed the hell out of Krampus. Alone in a theater, the night before Christmas Eve.

It was probably one of the best theater experiences I will ever have.

And because of that, Krampus will always hold a special place in my heart. But also because I really enjoyed the film, too.

One year later, Waxwork Records put out an incredible double-vinyl version of the film's amazing soundtrack, composed by Douglas Pipes (who also composed the soundtrack to Trick 'r Treat, another favorite of mine!).

I was able to score the limited double-picture disc version, featuring the amazing "evil elves" from the film. Pipes has done an amazing job of merging cheery holiday melodies and menacing, tense, dark rhythms to create a new Christmastime classic.

I absolutely love everything about this soundtrack and it has become a staple in my post-Halloween playlist...

"Krampus: An Austrian Folk Tale" Documentary

From the Austrian countryside, where ancient folktales are still told, comes the story of Krampus - Christmas demon of yore...

Krampus: An Austrian Folk Tale, is a feature-length documentary that takes the viewer deep into the heart of Austrian and German folklore, to explore the mystery and origins of this ancient custom. From the beginning of the legend itself, to the creation of the costumes and riotous parades, Krampus will be discovered in all his fearsome glory.

All photos courtesy of Hexe Productions

I have been trying to find more info on this 2015 Krampus documentary produced by Hexe Productions ever since I recently discovered the trailer on YouTube.

Amazing footage of traditional Austrian Krampuslaufs with historical information direct from the source. I have become very interested in the tales of Krampus and the European festivals that take place in his honor each winter, and this documentary looks like it would go a long way in satiating my curiosity.

Unfortunately, I have only been able to find the documentary's trailer and website. I'm not sure if the full documentary is available anywhere or if it was ever released. I would love to find out more info on this, but for now, I'll just go back and re-watch the amazing trailer for the 100th time...


Hand Carved Krampus Masks by Miguel Walch

Every winter I see stunningly beautiful, hand carved wooden Krampus masks from artists in and around Austria. And every winter I think that I need to save up a bunch of money and have a custom, one-of-a-kind hand carved mask created especially for me. Some day, I suppose.

This year, I discovered the amazing work of Austrian artist, Miguel Walch. His ability to take a hunk of wood and create a vibrant and hideous, lifelike creature completely blew me away. His final Krampus masks would fit in perfectly at any European Krampuslauf or displayed prominently on any art gallery wall...

All photos courtesy of

And while I don't have the funds available to get my own custom Krampus mask yet, I will seek out his gorgeously designed book. It's all in German, but the stunning photography and the beautiful graphic design still make this one a no-brainer for my personal library.

All photos courtesy of

Fröhlich Krampusnacht!

Merry Krampus Night!

It's December 5th, and that means that all of the bad children will be visited by Krampus tonight! Krampus, the Christmas Devil and evil counterpart of St. Nicholas, is a cloven-hooved, goat-demon that punishes bad children with a lash of his birch branched switch, then transports them to Hell inside the wicker basket upon his back.

Photo courtesy of National Geographic/Sean Gallup-Getty Images.

Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Matthias Schrader.

Photo courtesy of Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

Photo courtesy of Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

Both National Geographic and The German Way & More have great articles on the history and legend of Krampus. And while its origins are in Austria and the surrounding southern Bavarian regions, the legend and imagery are taking hold here in America, too. Krampus events seem to be popping up all over the country.

But nothing can compare to the traditional Austrian KrampusLauf (Krampus Run) parades in Europe. I've only been able to check them out via various YouTube videos, but I am definitely putting a wintertime KrampusLauf trip to Austria on my bucket list. This looks to be an absolutely incredible and unique experience that involves the whole town. What really makes me curious is how a meager home haunter from Akron, Ohio could somehow get connected with a Krampus performer in Austria and don a traditional costume and perform in one of these parades!?!?

Check out this video of the 2017 KrampusLauf from Schladming, Austria:

Fröhlich Krampusnacht!

Svartsinn - "Towards The Dark And Cold"

The chill of autumn air, the crackle of fallen leaves and the fiery glow of a jack-o-lantern's candle have now gone away. We sit at the colorless doorstep of winter. The harsh season of ending. Embrace the march towards the dark and cold...

Revenant's Hauntcast September "Theater of the Mind" Segment

O Great Pumpkin,
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot complete,
The focus to complete the things I can,
And the craftiness to camouflage the bare spots so nobody will know the difference.

So back in September, I downloaded the latest episode of the Hauntcast Post Mortem podcast, ready to dive in and digest all of the amazing/hilarious/informative segments in the roll up to Halloween night. Except that I didn't...

I never found the appropriate time in my busy schedule to sit down and press play. My time was already more than accounted for with other, more pressing Halloween tasks and projects. My intent was always to find the time, but like a few other Halloween projects this year, it just fell through the cracks.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving morning. I'm setting out for an early morning solo drive down to my mother-in-law's house to celebrate the holiday with family. I realized that the two-hour drive would be a perfect time to finally get to that latest episode. I put the car in drive and finally, finally press play.

One of the segments that I always look forward to is Revenant's "Theater of the Mind." Always something that really resonates with me. And this segment REALLY stood out.

As I was driving, I started paying more attention to each word. It was like I had written the segment myself and that he was narrating an essay that had come directly from my hand. I couldn't believe it! As the segment continued, the smile on my face grew larger and the other drivers around me must have thought me insane as I let out laughs and bursts of "Exactly!" or "Yep!" to an empty car.

It's wonderful to know that others have the same highs and lows throughout the Halloween season and that they also "get" the true absurdity of the whole thing. Yet, like me, they also understand the true reasons of why we do what we do each October, and why it is so vital in continuing to do so.

As the segment came to an end, I was giddy with energy. It was everything that Halloween meant to me, perfectly packaged in a tidy 11 minute segment. I actually stopped the podcast to listen to the segment again. That little, unexpected jolt brought back all of the energy and excitement from Halloween night. It was perfect.

Do yourself a favor and go download the latest episode of Hauntcast here (if you haven't already). I've only gotten through the first half of the whopping 4 hour episode, and so far, all of the segments have been really good (and I have yet to get to the interview with Allen Hopps, which couldn't possibly be anything but amazing).

And if you'd like to get a snapshot into the small world of Highbury Cemetery, fast forward to Revenant's "Theater of the Mind" segment at 26:27. It's a wonderful jolt of Halloween fun and energy. Something that we all could use, now that the big night has passed for another year.

Thanks, Hauntcast.

Cryo Chamber's Halloween Music Mix, 2017

The Halloween season rolls on with this ominous dark ambient Halloween mix, created by ProtoU for the Cryo Chamber label. One full hour of solid atmospheric tracks by artists including Dronny Darko, Alphaxone, Council of Nine, Atrium Carceri & Eldar, Metatron Omega and Flowers For Bodysnatchers.

A Halloween Gift To Us!

I wanted to give a big thanks to the neighbor who dropped off a small gift the day after Halloween! After the big night, I came home from a long, exhausting day at work only to discover 3 quarts of fog juice on my front doorstep!

An unexpected surprise, to be certain. It's super cool that our neighbors recognize AND appreciate what we do each Halloween and leave tokens like this. And it definitely motivates me to keep working and go even bigger next year!! We are very fortunate to live in such a cool neighborhood with great neighbors who love to celebrate the Halloween season with us.

Thank you again, to our mystery neighbor!! Your gift will not go to waste at our cemetery!!


John Carpenter Live at the Majestic Theatre, Detroit 11/10/17

I was a bit surprised when I saw that John Carpenter was heading back out on the road for another tour, this time in support of his newest release, John Carpenter Anthology (Movie Themes 1974-1998).

When I saw the tour schedule, I noticed that again like last year, he was not stopping anywhere in Ohio (what the hell, John!?!?). The closest stop was Detroit, a nice three hour drive from the Cemetery. And after going back and forth, I eventually decided to check it out again, this time with Mrs. Highbury along for the ride. We don't get out to that many shows anymore, but for John Carpenter, we would make an exception!

We both hopped into the car and made the quick-ish drive over to Detroit, ready to experience an amazing show. We arrived at the Majestic Theatre 30 minutes before the doors opening, only to have to sit outside in frigid temperatures for over an hour. And furthermore, my camera was denied access to the show, so I could only shoot with my phone.

But even with all that, the show was incredible and we had an amazing time. Carpenter and his band came out and flawlessly cranked through his massive library of iconic horror film soundtracks and even included a few of his original compositions from 2015's Lost Themes.

Of course, if you have seen my post from last year's show, you'll quickly notice a LOT of similarities between that show and this one. A lot of the same songs and accompanying film clips that played behind the band played on this tour, too. But honestly, hearing live versions of utter Carpenter classics like Halloween, The Fog, Escape From New York, Big Trouble in Little ChinaThey Live and especially Ennio Morricone's epic title track for The Thing is an opportunity that I just couldn't pass up...

And with a painfully steady hand, I was able to film the final track in their incredible set...

We really, really enjoyed this show. And even though it was very similar to last year's tour, I'm still glad I went, especially so that Mrs. Highbury could experience it. And she loved it, too. We were both happy that we made the journey.

And of course, we couldn't make it through the whole show without a stop off at the merch table. I ended up picking up a John Carpenter autographed vinyl copy of his new Anthology (Movie Themes 1974-1998) and an INSANELY cool Escape From New York shirt. And then I had to go back and buy an Anthology screened tote bag to carry it all in...

I've been spinning Anthology nonstop since I got home, and I highly recommend picking up a copy! Especially for that slightly more guitar heavy version of The Thing and for Christine. And obviously for Halloween and Assault on Precinct 13. And definitely for The Fog and In The Mouth of Madness. But mostly for They Live and Escape From New York. Yeesh.

Carpenter's Anthology Tour continues on, heading toward the East Coast, so get out and see him if he's playing near you. Or even if not! It is well worth the trip!


One Guess.

Can anybody guess who I'm going to see tomorrow night??

Who wants to meet me and Mrs. Highbury in Detroit and enjoy the hell out of this show!?!? Full post when I get back!!

A Proper Pumpkin Send-Off

I'm not sure if this is 100% legal, so I probably shouldn't post this. But here it goes...

Over the past couple of years, I have wrestled with the thought of taking our carved jack-o-lanterns and simply throwing them into the garbage after Halloween night. It didn't feel like the most environmentally-friendly option and it certainly wasn't the most dignified option for something that we took precious time to carve by hand.

So right after Halloween night this year, I came up with a rather fun and mischievous plan to give our jack-o-lanterns a proper send-off.

I've always been a huge fan of The Great Pumpkin Project, but I have always lacked the time to actually place any jack-o-lanterns before the big night. Until now!

My plan was to take the jack-o-lanterns, find a somewhat hidden spot in the local Metropark system that surrounds my neighborhood, and then anonymously place them for others to discover.

I made sure to pull all candles and wax residue from each jack-o-lantern, leaving only the pumpkin. A fully biodegradable, organic material that would also feed the local deer, squirrel, chipmunk and insect population in the park. (So in the off-chance that I did get caught, I could simply say that I was feeding the wildlife!)

I picked the best spot from a list of about 4 or 5, and loaded up the car with all 18 jack-o-lanterns. I quietly pulled into the undisclosed location and quickly went to work, placing each in a firm, yet very visible location all down a rocky stream embankment. It was perfect.

After all 18 were meticulously placed, I grabbed the camera...

When the photos were all captured, I went back to my car. I decided to grab my phone and send a quick photo over to Brother Scrapes to share in the hi-jinx. As I hit "send," an SUV pulled in next to me and two girls jumped out, screaming with joy, snapping photos with their phones. I couldn't believe it. Not 2 minutes after I had secretly set this up, people were already noticing it.

And as I went to send that over to Brother Scrapes as well, I looked back across the parking lot only to notice an old pickup truck parking next to the two girls. 2 more older ladies jumped out, taking photos with their phones!! 4 people in 5 minutes. Unreal! I thought my timing couldn't have been better. But I was wrong...

After coyly observing the 4 onlookers, I decided to slip away. And as I pulled up the main access driveway, a Park Ranger was pulling in. My heart sank to my stomach. I drove past, exchanging a wave, and slipped away from everyone without incident. I couldn't believe my luck.

And as a side note, I checked the location early this morning, and all of the jack-o-lanterns were STILL there. So if anyone is in the Northeast Ohio area, feel free to seek out and enjoy the setup before it's taken down. The only clues are that it is in a towpath trailhead parking lot and it is in the Akron, Ohio area. Good luck!!

And if you happen to be from the Metroparks and you are reading this, please understand my rationale for doing this. Hopefully I'm not in any trouble!

And don't worry. I have already picked my spot for 2018. It's not in the park system...


Highbury Cemetery, 2017

Another Halloween season has now come to an end, but not before one last glorious crescendo that is Highbury Cemetery. This year's haunt display for our neighborhood trick-or-treat will rank as one of the best for many reasons.

We had a perfect evening of dry, crisp autumn weather, bookended by cold, miserable rain on either side of Halloween night. Coupled with the problems that our friends on the east coast had with the damage from their stormy weather, we were very fortunate and very lucky to dodge the same bullet. Although, I must admit that I did stop and laugh when I saw a few snow flakes falling during our hectic afternoon setup.

We also had a night that was free of the typical haunt display snafus that we had suffered in the past. No electrical problems (like the time my new 1300 watt fog machine tripped the breaker in my house causing half of my cemetery lighting to go out, only to have my led lights cycle through the circus-like range of color choices against my tombstones when the circuit was reset) or any real prop issues (like the year when my shiatsu ground breaker's arm broke off half way through the night, only to lay lifeless next to a twisting head inside his half unburied coffin). The only casualty was the round ball on the top of the Highbury obelisk that broke off after a brisk gust of wind knocked it off. A relatively easy fix for next year.

And finally, we had a near-record breaking amount of trick-or-treaters, parents, friends and curious neighbors. Even on a weeknight, the hordes continued to enter through our cemetery gate and didn't let up until the very end of the night. Add to that the number who showed up with donations for our first annual canned food drive and our night was a complete success. I was blown away with the amount of food that was donated in a two-hour window, and I know that it will help make a difference in our city.

When the last trick-or-treater departed at roughly 8:45 pm, it was time for the final act. A quick canvassing of the entire haunt with my camera, and then 11 people tore down the entire display in record time, leaving no trace of a haunt display that was fully operational just one hour before. The amazing show had come to a close for another year, but not before a whirlwind of Halloween madness and fun that was had by all.

Late that evening, I transferred the photos over to the computer. I sat in a weatherbeaten, exhausted, crumpled mess and giddily scrolled through the shots that I had just captured. Each photo elicited the joy of the evening's fun. I fell quickly asleep that night, smiling in the satisfaction of another successful year of Highbury Cemetery.

So sit back and enjoy the photos from Highbury Cemetery, 2017...

The Harvester of Brine
With literally hours to spare, I completed this new vine-laden scarecrow figure. He took his place at the foot of the cemetery entrance, exposing a glowing, salt-withered pumpkin heart inside of his rotted chest cavity to all who dared walk by.

I was REALLY happy with the way he turned out, especially under the dramatic red and orange lighting. I may look to add a small white spotlight next year, just to better define the arm that pulls back his shirt and exposes the glowing red led heart. Look for a full post on the Harvester of Brine in the very near future!

The VERY recently refurbished shiatsu ground breaker worked flawlessly all night, garnering much attention and many compliments from his position at the top of the cemetery!

The Highbury Crypt
With a few minor adjustments, the second year of the Highbury Walk-In Crypt was a big hit. The crypt, which was set up in my front porch, was the final destination for the trick-or-treaters, as they had to walk in to get their candy. I pulled the lighting way back this year, creating a much more ominous tone. The darker room also gave more attention to the illuminated stained glass window in the back wall as well as the two corpse-filled Highbury crypts on either side. A steady stream of mildew-scented fog kept the atmosphere nice and creepy!

My 5-year-old son's super cool jack-o-lantern! I'm slowly bringing him into the Halloween fold...

After all was said and done, we had roughly 489 trick-or-treaters, parents, friends and curious neighbors through the cemetery gates. I say "roughly" because there were times that there were so many people coming through at once, we couldn't count them all. In the two hours of trick-or-treat, we had a constant flow of people coming in and out, many hanging out to see all that we had on display.

And as always, I have to thank each and every member of the Highbury Cemetery crew. Without their dedicated help, there would be NO WAY that Highbury Cemetery would be the yard haunt that it is today. Glow-in-the-dark thank you Highbury Cemetery t-shirts go out to Sharon and Karen (two of the three of us available to somehow get the entire display put up in time for the first trick-or-treaters who showed up - I absolutely could not have done it with out you two!), brother Scrapes, Andrew, neighbors Joe and Stacy (whose yard is slowly being taken over!), Vince and Stacey Rager (our new official Highbury Cemetery family members!!) and Mike from Castle Boulevard (you snuck out before I was able to give you a shirt - I'll have to drop one off at your house!!). A very successful display thanks to you all.

But we aren't done there...

The First Annual Canned Food Drive

As I said earlier, 2017 was our first year as a charity haunt. I decided to do some good for the community (as many other home haunters have before me), and run a canned food drive to support the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank during trick-or-treat. I created a special announcement sign and placed it, along with my new "coffin for a cause" in my front yard about two weeks before Halloween. I also posted the photo to our local neighborhood Nextdoor app.

The response I got was overwhelming! A neighbor dropped off a huge box of lollipops to add to the special treat bags given out to all donations (the treat bags consisted of a glow-in-the-dark "I filled the coffin for a cause" square button, a plastic jumping spider, two fun size candy bars and a lollipop).

During the two hours of trick-or-treat, a non-stop line of people came up and dropped their canned food donations into the coffin for a cause. I was so happy to see kids dropping their cans into the coffin!

At the end of the night, all of the food and cash donations were tallied. And I'm incredibly happy to announce that we collected 143 items of food and $74.30 in monetary donations!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who donated! With this donation, we are making a positive impact together in our community. This has reinvigorated me and has given me a new purpose for the yard haunt. I can't wait to do this again next year.

Now let's collect twice as much for 2018!!